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European diplomats to visit J&K to take a note of present situation

Last Updated on February 15, 2021 at 7:50 pm

It has been a week since the government restored 4G Internet connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir. Now, the J&K administration is planning to invite a group of diplomats to visit Srinagar and Jammu to show them present situation in the region, sources told.

This visit is likely to take place in the next few weeks and will include about 20 envoys and diplomats including from the European Union, who have been invited by the Ministry of External Affairs, sources said. However, sources said that a final decision on the visit and nitty-gritty of the delegation is yet to be confirmed.

This will be the third official visit to J&K by foreign diplomats since the government’s decision to remove its special status and divide the State into two Union Territories (Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh) on August 5, 2019. In October 2019, a delegation consisting of Members of the European Parliament had also visited the UT, but there were some controversies with it and the government described it as a “personal” visit.

This two-day visit is still in the planning stages. Sources said that in its trip, the foreign delegation is likely to meet government officials, newly-elected local District Development Council (DDC) representatives, business chambers and members of civil society. The Jammu Kashmir Administration can also prepare and show a presentation on the recently held District Development Council (DDC) polls and the restoration of high-speed internet, sources said.

However, there is suspicion if the group would meet former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah. Previous delegations could meet only members of the J&K Apni Party, because most of the other political leaders, including all former Chief Ministers, were in detention at that time.

The first two delegations after the abrogation of Article 370 were received in January and February 2020, before the Coronavirus pandemic. These delegations had included the Ambassadors of the United States, Germany, Norway and the European Union Ambassador to India and from various countries in South America, South East Asia and Africa. The timing of the upcoming visit holds significance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the EU-India summit in Portugal on May 8, and this delegation’s report is expected to be included in the discussions.

The European Union has made many statements about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, especially on the issue of arrests of Opposition leaders, restrictions on movement of people and internet bans.